IAQ Tools for Schools
Develop Your Program
Solutions to Common Issues
Smart Materials Selection
School environments face threats of exposure to indoor air pollutants due to a variety of factors, including: the construction of more tightly sealed buildings; reduced ventilation rates to save energy; the use of synthetic building materials and furnishings; the increased use of personal care products, pesticides and housekeeping supplies; and the increased use of vehicles and power equipment.
To reduce the impact of indoor air pollutants, choose products that have less of an effect on human health and the environment than equivalent, competing products or services. Look for products that may contain recycled content, or for products and services that minimize waste, conserve energy or water, or reduce the amount of toxics disposed or consumed. When building a new school, meet with building planners and design architects to discuss materials selection.
Solutions to Common Materials Selection Issues:
I don't know what chemicals or products are currently being used in my school.
- Create and maintain an inventory of all purchased products. Capture information related to chemical storage, emergency response and first aid procedures as well as emergency contact information.
- Only allow products approved by the school or school district in buildings and encourage teachers who wish to keep cleaning chemicals in classrooms to obtain cleaning solutions from the custodial staff, as these chemicals have been approved for district use.
There are no guidelines for purchasing chemicals or other products at our school.
- Select products based on product rating systems, including ENERGY STAR and Design for the Environment.
- Develop policies to only purchase low-emitting products and consider requesting that each area of curriculum designate someone to review purchases.
- When purchasing neutral cleaners, glass cleaners, bathroom cleaners and disinfectants, consider products that have high dilution rates, are designed to reduce waste and have lower end-use costs.
- Consider purchasing building materials that can be easily cleaned and maintained with the same cleaning products used throughout the building.
Sometimes products that are used in our schools make students and staff feel sick or have allergic reactions and/or asthma attacks.
- Use least toxic cleaners possible (only those approved by the district).
- Use low-toxicity and low-emitting paint.
- Use formaldehyde-free materials.
To read more about environmental attributes to look for in products, procurement guidance, tools, case studies and other useful resources, visit EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing website. Also visit EPA's Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) website to learn about the sources and effects of high-emission products.
|Integrated Pest Management in Schools|
|Cleaning and Maintenance|
|IAQ Design Tools for Schools|
|Basic IAQ Measurements|
IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit Reference Guide, Section 2, "Understanding IAQ Problems"
IAQ Tools for Schools Program E-newsletter #26, March 2010, Incorporating Green Cleaning into Your IAQ Program (PDF) #26 (4 pp., 96 K, about PDF)
ENERGY STAR provides a number of EPA resources that are designed to assist procurement officials in making smart purchasing decisions.